CONCORD, N.H. -- Persistent rain in New England has renewed the threat of flooding as the area recovers from Tropical Storm Irene. It’s a reminder that now is the time to buy flood insurance.
It takes 30 days after purchase for flood insurance to go into effect, so buying now is the best way to be sure that you are covered in case of future flooding in your home, whether or not there is a disaster declaration.
Many borrowers in high-risk areas are required to buy flood insurance. But floods are not limited to high-risk hazard areas. Nationally, more than 20 percent of the claims come from floods in low or moderate flood-risk areas.
Contact the insurance agent who provides your homeowner insurance to buy a flood insurance policy. It can cover contents as well as the dwelling. Renters can buy flood insurance that covers only their furnishings and personal property, which costs less than homeowner policies. Businesses can cover their premises and inventories.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administers the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is not just insurance. The program requires participating local governments to adopt minimum standards for building compliance in Special Flood Hazard Areas, which are the locations defined by FEMA as being most at risk of flooding. The goal is to reduce the risk of repeated flooding of dwellings and businesses.
When a community adopts the necessary regulations, it becomes a participant in the NFIP program and its residents are eligible, and in some cases are required, to buy flood insurance.
There are more than 8,900 NFIP polices in effect in Maine, totaling nearly $1.9 billion in value. The average policy limit is $211,383 and the average annual premium is $886. Maine has 973 communities participating in NFIP, and 33 communities that do not participate. Residents of non-participating communities cannot buy flood insurance through NFIP.
Visit www.FloodSmart.gov. You can use the rate tables to compare the cost of a policy over time with the cost of an uninsured loss. Then you can decide how much financial risk you want to gamble. For more information, call 1-888-379-9531.
FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.